We all knew this day would come:  The everyday Blogger is dead; and we are the haunted, but rectifying, ghosts of what used to be and what has never been.  Our deaths begin and end with the elevation of Twitter where everyone suddenly became a publisher — but never a writer — and great thoughts and complex ideas were forever compounded down into 140 character streams of neverending drivel.

We heartily accept our commoner Cleopatra-like demise — because we know quality content always aces thought balloons and character burps and the mainstream media mega shovel — and we find comfort in knowing the Golden Age of the Web in its prime and we will always remember the way it was, but never how it was supposed to be.

The daily need to hunt down our content thieves and kill them will likely be the one legacy task that outlives us all.

Here’s how Newsweek reported our ordinary deaths three weeks ago:

Amateur blogs, the original embodiment of Web democracy, are showing signs of decline. While professional bloggers are “a rising class,” according to Technorati, hobbyists are in retreat, and about 95 percent of blogs are launched and quickly abandoned. A recent Pew study found that blogging has withered as a pastime, with the number of 18- to 24-year-olds who identify themselves as bloggers declining by half between 2006 and 2009.

A shift to Twitter—or microblogging, as it’s called—partly accounts for these numbers. But while Twitter carries more than 50 million tweets per day, its army of keystrokers may not be as large as it seems. As many as 90 percent of tweets come from 10 percent of users, according to a 2009 Harvard study. The others are primarily “lurkers”—people who don’t contribute but track the postings of others. Between 60 and 70 percent of people who sign up for the 140-character platform quit within a month, according to a recent Nielsen report.

But wait!

Leo Laporte wrote a week ago on his blog that commoner blogging isn’t really dead and that Twitter is actually an empty shell of an echo chamber.  That speaking truth to power came to Leo only after he discovered Google Buzz hadn’t been updating his Twitter stream for over three weeks and nobody — including him — noticed or cared:

It makes me feel like everything I’ve posted over the past four years on Twitter, Jaiku, Friendfeed, Plurk, Pownce, and, yes, Google Buzz, has been an immense waste of time. I was shouting into a vast echo chamber where no one could hear me because they were too busy shouting themselves. All this time I’ve been pumping content into the void like some chatterbox Onan. How humiliating. How demoralizing….

I should have been posting it here all along. Had I been doing so I’d have something to show for it. A record of my life for the last few years at the very least. But I ignored my blog and ran off with the sexy, shiny microblogs. Well no more. I’m sorry for having neglected you Leoville. From now on when I post a picture of a particularly delicious sandwich I’m posting it here. When I complain that Sookie is back with Bill, you’ll hear it here first. And the show notes for my shows will go here, too.

As a ghost traipsing the earth, I will happily continue to write and publish articles in the Boles Blogs Network because therein lies the snap of private thoughts gone public and the delight of communally cracking open notions for deeper inspection.  I am writing forward for the Beyond Twitter Generations yet to be born.

We are who we choose to be — and our words and ideas define us like swords into carcasses and blogging has always been the primary platform for carving formed modern social thought — but everything starts to sag and seep as social networking becomes the pressing force instead of determined, on the record, mindful contemplation that wails for ingestion and processing while eschewing the notion that anything important can ever beheld in 140 characters or less.

10 Comments

  1. I deleted my Twitter account recently, I just was not using it and if I felt I had something to say I’d rather write it for my personal blog. Sometimes I write every day, others, now and again when the whim comes over me. I write for me, I can only keep the inane chatter contained in my noggin for so long.

    I do use Facebook quite a bit as my kids, grand kids and family uses it but I enjoy blogging still. Like to go back through the archives at my stuff and sometimes laugh myself silly at the crazy stuff I think up.

    I wonder if the study asked people in other age ranges, 18 – 24 years old are more likely to be on the latest bandwagon like Twitter than us old ones I assume.

    1. Hi Mik!

      Yes, I noticed you privatized your Twitter account. I wondered if you were moving on or quitting the human race or something — and the first thing I did was check your blog to see if you were “okay” and alive and still posting. I was pleased to find a recent post on your blog, so I knew you were at least okay in one sense.

      Writing blog articles is still my main thing, but I do send updates to FriendFeed and Twitter and Facebook. I just read the new iTunes has “Ping” built into version 10 — so there’s even more noise in the social networking arena that will need filtering or coddling to go away.

      I think Facebook is really interesting. The connections there do seem to be richer and more involved than those on Twitter and LinkedIn. I recently wrote about getting 5,000 friends there.

      Blogging is a timeline of thinking. You can go back and remember who you used to be and what you used to think. That reflexive memory can be a wonderful exercise in reflection.

      I do think Twitter is for kids. It encourages coded speech that makes no real sense to anyone with any sort of formal schooling.

    1. I’d love to know if people who follow more than, say 100 others, actually read those Tweets or not. I’d bet on “not.” Boles Blogs only has around 600 people we reciprocally follow — and I don’t read their Tweets and I really doubt they read mine. If that’s the real point of the Twitter Trending Topic — what’s the point of it all?

  2. I think Twitter suits comedians, I like Dennis Leary’s updates on Facebook, but if I had something I could twitter about I’d rather develop it into a longer blog post.

    I haven’t yet updated mu iTunes so haven’t checked out Ping yet.

    I didn’t follow a lot of people but I still rarely read many of the tweets.

    1. Hey Mik —

      Yes, I can see how a comedian might use Twitter to deliver one-liners to a following audience. I guess I just want more from the people I follow.

      The new iTunes is much faster then version 9. Ping is sort of dull right now. Not very interactive.

  3. Some time ago, I discovered this blog via a traffic exchange called “Blog Explosion (BE)”. The BE site is still running, but in a very poor state and new sites seem no longer to be approved. The content in blogs that remain on the network tends towards the poor, with a few exceptions.

    The interest in BE at the time of my discovery of Urban Semiotic was such that, commenting on other blogs I also liked – or piqued my interest for a short time because of one or two posts – meant a lot of people also commented on my blog.

    I am a fairly big Twitter user, because it serves multiple purposes: to update both my LinkedIn and Facebook statuses (selectively) and to draw attention to content I don’t have time to blog about as such. It’s a soundbite platform but is the only place I get the same level of interaction that my blog used to provide.

    I still update my blog from time to time, but Twitter is the only place I make regular (more than weekly) updates. My blog is a hub from which you can follow my Twitter, FlickR and YouTube output as well as read occasional articles and get my LinkedIn profile. If I don’t tweet a blog article link, it gets very low readership (but then again, my content isn’t exactly compelling – especially if you don’t know me).

    Blogging is not dead, but it certainly isn’t thriving as it once did. Audiences have found their niches (several geek / tech / humour blogs are doing very well) but general narcissistic bloggers – perhaps I am in that set – are more likely to be using Facebook to keep their network up to date with snapshots of their rather uninteresting opinions. Being “Purple Cow” remarkable just isn’t possible for us all. Might I posit that the traffic exchanges used to be a place to drive like minded bloggers together. Now it’s Facebook that is the hub for sharing between “friends”. StumbleUpon is perhaps the closest thing I’ve found that can compare to the liveliness in the traffic exchanges’ heyday, but it’s not just for blogs.

    -Simon

    1. Simon —

      I’m sorry to learn you aren’t really blogging any longer. That does seem to be the trend now. Twitter blurps replace paragraphs of though and argument and evidence. It makes me melancholy.

      Blog Explosion was a wonderful service, but they always seemed to be mismanaged. Every day they seemed to change their perspective and purpose. Most of those great, early, blog exchanges have turned to dust as ease of publication via Twitter took over the solar universe.

      I have never been a Twitter fan. I don’t understand it. I use the service just the opposite as you do — I feed my Twitter stream and my Facebook wall via FriendFeed with blog post updates.

      The problem I have with Twitter is the same sort of problem I have with my own 10txt.com blog: The idea is cute, but the execution gets old really fast because you can’t say what needs to be said in 140 characters or in 10 words. That’s why I’m thinking of changing 10txt to “Ten Sentence Stories” instead of “Ten Word Stories” — so we can loosen the boundaries of thought a bit — even if we actively chose to only use ten words to tell a story.